Australia set up South Africa clash
February 7, 2014
Greg Jeloudev was part of an impressive Australia side on day one of the Sevens in Wellington © Getty Images
New Zealand and Australia are through to the quarter-finals of the IRB Seven World Series in Wellington. Australia progressed through day one unbeaten with wins against Tonga, Kenya and Samoa, setting up a quarter-final with South Africa on Saturday.
The Kiwis will be heavy favourites to advance to the semi-finals when they play Canada, but things were looking shaky for the home side after a first-up 12-7 loss to Fiji.
Defending champions England topped off a solid day by handing IRB World Series leaders South Africa their first loss (19-5) since the final of the Dubai tournament last November and will play Samoa in the first quarter-final with Fiji against Argentina rounding out the top-eight play-offs.
Australia's youthful squad performed well to beat Kenya 24-0, Tonga 33-0 and Samoa with a last gasp 15-12 win thanks to a drop goal penalty to Cameron Clark, although they will need to improve their performance at the breakdown. Samoa had earlier looked impressive in beating Wales 26-0 and Portugal 27-5 and appeared to have Australia's measure when Alatasi Tupou scored a brilliant solo try after half-time.
Last year's finalists Kenya is out of the Cup after back-to-back losses to Samoa and Australia. New Zealand will be satisfied with the way they responded to their opening 12-7 loss to Fiji to run in nine tries in a 55-0 thrashing of Spain, then a further seven tries against France. Tim Mikkelson and Sherwin Stowers were the standout performers for New Zealand on day one with five and three tries apiece.
Canada had a relatively easy run against Scotland, Argentina and the United States, but New Zealand will still need to lift for the knock out stages.
England haven't set the series alight this season, but looked strong and organised today with wins over Portugal, Wales as well as South Africa. Their set-piece work, in particular, was excellent and James Powell put in a powerful display.
Fiji also looked motivated and dangerous, with the series' leading try scorer Samisoni Viriviri a constant danger in the wins over New Zealand, Spain and France.
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